May 17 A slide in Ubisoft's shares on
Wednesday has revived talk of a takeover by media giant Vivendi
, worrying the video game company's founding Guillemot
family which has so far rejected any possibility of such a deal.
The maker of the Assassin's Creed and South Park video game
series fears poor results could weaken its defence strategy and
make it easier for Vivendi to persuade investors to back a
takeover, a source close to the company said.
"We are well aware that Bollore has been waiting for a
stumbling block to step in," the source said, referring to
Vivendi's billionaire chairman Vincent Bollore.
Vivendi first bought a stake in Ubisoft in 2015 and raised
it in 2016, prompting the Guillemot family to court Canadian
investors to fend off any hostile approach. By the end of last
year Vivendi had boosted its holding to 25 percent.
Ubisoft shares fell as much as 7.9 percent on Wednesday,
after the French company cut its mid-term sales forecasts. The
company also said it still considered the best way to create
value was to remain independent.
Ubisoft shares were down 2.7 percent at 47.4 euros as at
Another person familiar with the situation said on Wednesday
that the drop in price was probably not enough for Vivendi to
make a bid as Ubisoft shares were still up 40 percent since the
start of the year, partly on expectations of a Vivendi approach.
The source also dismissed the likelihood of any merger
approach in the near term, saying it was still "early days".
Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Charles-Louis Scotti said time was
on Vivendi's side. He said if Ubisoft does meet it's full-year
targets, Vivendi's investment would produce a very positive
return. But if Ubisoft falls short, it would end up being a
cheaper acquisition for Bollore's media giant.
"The ideal window of opportunity for a transaction on
Ubisoft is later on this year, or early next year," Bryan,
Garnier & Co analyst Richard-Maxime Beaudoux said, also adding
that time was on Vivendi's side in its pursuit of Ubisoft.
(Reporting by Wout Vergauwen; additional reporting by Sophie
Sassard in London; editing by David Clarke)